One toxic chemical found on a variety of masks is formaldehyde, found in building materials, adhesives, paper products, and insulation materials.

Scientists have recently found evidence suggesting that some masks currently on sale and being used by the general public have traces of chemical compounds that are restricted for both health and environmental reasons.

One toxic chemical found on a variety of masks is formaldehyde– a chemical compound often found in building materials, adhesives, paper products, and insulation materials. The chemical, outside of its proper use, is known to cause burning sensations in the eyes, watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, and nausea.

Evidence collated by Ecotextile News revealed that face masks are required to meet specific standards. However, in the rushed world of the pandemic, some don’t.

Formaldehyde in Face Masks

A report published in the journal Wiley Online Library entitled “Surgical mask dermatitis caused by formaldehyde (releasers) during the COVID‐19 pandemic” is a case regarding a 38-year old lab technician that developed contact dermatitis after working with a polypropylene surgical mask.

Researchers believed that trace impurities of formaldehyde in the masks caused skin disease.

Professor Michal Braungart, director at the Hamburg Environmental Institute tested masks that had caused rashes and found that these masks were laced with hazardous waste such as formaldehyde, aniline — a known carcinogen, and other toxic chemicals.

He explains that the team found traces of formaldehyde and aniline when they noticed unknown artificial fragrances being applied to cover unpleasant chemical smells from the masks.

Braungart adds that researchers have never tested the toxicity or long-term effects of masks on health.

Masks Laced With Fluorocarbons

Dr. Deieter Sedlak, managing director of Modern Testing Services, Augsburg, found traces of other chemicals using a unique testing method.

Other than formaldehyde, the team saw evidence of hazardous fluorocarbons in masks that are known to be toxic to human health.

Dr. Sedlak explains that the team found evidence that PFCs were deliberately applied to surgical masks as a fluid repellent that would work to repel aerosol droplets containing the virus. However, PFCs aren’t good for a person’s face, nose, eyes, and mucus membranes.

PFCs are often added in textiles for an additional protective coating to jackets and rucksacks but aren’t intended to be inhaled.

The concentration of PFCs found on masks by researchers lies within a safe limit of 16 mg/kg. However, Sedlak found that when placed on a mask, millimeters from the mouth, the level of exposure to the toxic chemical soars past the safe limit.

Both academics explicitly state that the studies and experiments concluded don’t definitively generalize all surgical masks but strongly believe that some masks currently in circulation should be a cause for concern.

Face coverings often worn by the public aren’t classed as PPE and aren’t subjected to the same level of scrutinous examination as masks intended for medical professional use.

Experts say that further studies are needed on the compositi9on and specific design of masks used particularly by the general public since these only need to pass general safety laws compared to medical-grade PPEs.

Originally published at Science Times